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  • Jo-Anne Blanco

Blanchefleur, Lady of Beaurepaire

There are four women with the name of Blanchefleur or Blancheflor (“White Flower”) in Arthurian legend. One was the mother of Tristan in early sources, who was replaced in later versions by Elyabel or Heliabel. Another was the daughter of King Triamor of Wales, who was desired by a Giant named Urgan but saved by Tristan, who slew Urgan. A third, depicted in a mural ca. 1901 by Edwin Austin Abbey, was a young woman of the Castle of Maidens who married Sir Galahad, but she was left by him on their wedding night when he realised that only a Virgin Knight could achieve the Holy Grail.

The most prominent is Lady Blanchefleur of Beaurepaire, the niece of Sir Gornemant of Gohort and the great love of Sir Percival. Based on the earlier character of Angharad Golden-Hand from the Mabinogion’s Peredur son of Efrwarg, Blanchefleur is the ruler of a town which is being attacked repeatedly by Anguiguerron, the seneschal of King Clamadeus of the Isles. When the newly knighted Percival arrives seeking shelter, he finds the town and its castle in a state of terrible disrepair, and its people poor and starving. However, Blanchefleur, her eyes sparkling with laughter or smiling (depending on the translation), offers him hospitality and a dinner of venison, five loaves, and some reheated wine. That night, she comes to the guest bed where Percival is sleeping and weeps beside it, waking him up. When the knight gently asks her what is wrong, she tells him that the reason King Clamadeus is attacking her town is that he wants her for himself. She reveals that Clamadeus has killed most of her 310 knights and captured 48, leaving only 50 to defend her stronghold. Although her castle must be surrended the following day, she has a knife ready that she will use to kill herself rather than submit to Clamadeus. It is suggested that during that same night Blanchefleur and Percival become lovers, but this is left open to interpretation.

Percival defeats both Anguiguerron and Clamadeus in single combat, and sends them both to Arthur as prisoners. With these victories and the arrival of a boat full of food, Blanchefleur and her town of Beaurepaire are saved. Percival remains in Beaurepaire for some time as Lady Blanchefleur’s knight-champion, and she falls more in love with him with each passing day. Eventually, Blanchefleur offers Percival the opportunity to marry her and become Lord of Beaurepaire. Percival tells her that he is honour bound to be an knight-errant, that he has others to save and protect, and therefore cannot stay in one place; however, he promises one day to return to her. The memory of Blanchefleur stays with Percival on his adventures: in one significant incident reminiscent of the Snow White fairy tale, he contemplates three drops of blood on white snow, which send him into a rapturous reminder of Blanchefleur and her complexion. After many adventures and the fulfilment of his duties as a knight, Percival is true to his word and returns to Beaurepaire to save Blanchefleur from another attacker, Caridés of Esclavon. After the defeat of Caridés, Blanchefleur and Percival are finally married.

Blanchefleur is a major character in the Fata Morgana Series. Known as Fleur, she is a child of Morgan’s age, of Southeast Asian origin, the adopted daughter of King Pellinore and Queen Sardoine of Ynys Môn, and Morgan’s best friend.

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